picture of the day

Give us a hug


Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, left, and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe look on as their wives Laureen Harper and Akie Abe greet each other outside the Parliament building in Ottawa on Tuesday.

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hung-up !

0 ( +2 / -2 )


2 ( +3 / -1 )

Why? Did they know each other personally or something?

3 ( +5 / -2 )

such a happy meeting.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

wondering whats running thru abe's mind with that big grin on his face =) (4p?!)

1 ( +4 / -3 )

Abe is waiting to hug Stephen of course... ;)

5 ( +6 / -1 )

A happy man is a man who grins.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

"wondering whats running thru abe's mind with that big grin on his face"

Maybe he's thinking "Am I supposed to hug Harper?"

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Inner dialogue: "Mmmmmm yeah, now kiss"

6 ( +8 / -2 )

They're happy cause they just arrived in the best country in the world! Eh!

10 ( +12 / -2 )

I wonder when Mr.Abe last got one of those from his wife? I'm assuming the wives have 'history'.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

Sis hug!

6 ( +6 / -0 )

See what the world would be like if women ran it! :)

13 ( +15 / -2 )

A good picture :). I always found Canadians to be extremely friendly and open people...

13 ( +16 / -3 )

Nice to see the wives are "good friends"

8 ( +8 / -0 )

I saw Abe and his wife boarding their JASDF 747 the other day. First time in a long time I have seen a PM's wife here in Japan. She is obviously much younger than he. Do they have kids and what's her background? Another political match, and if so can we expect his kids to someday run things here in Japan?

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Disgusting staged photo op.

-30 ( +4 / -34 )

you must be...how should I say...delicate in nature, if you find this "disgusting"

10 ( +11 / -1 )

@Tokiyo--Oh, okay. So you find staged photo ops for political gain to be "heartwarming". Isn't that nice?

-21 ( +0 / -21 )


I saw this on TV this morning. There was nothing staged about it.

12 ( +13 / -1 )

Abe and Harper look like a pair of robot-butlers trying desperately to analyse and comprehend this thing the humans call "affection".

7 ( +10 / -3 )

This is a nice picture. I wonder if the two women are friends, or if getting used to foreign customs is just what first-ladies (or the non-America equivalent) are expected to do.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

A good picture :). I always found Canadians to be extremely friendly and open people...

I heartily agree!

2 ( +6 / -4 )

Abes wife: "Im so glad this aint the US" Harpers wife: "Aint that the truth"


-4 ( +3 / -7 )

Abe is scrapping nuclear reactors now so Canada will help Japan with its oil sales. Glad he get deal with peaceful Canada for energy source supply. Nice hugging by first ladies. Glad they went before cold weather comes.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

@Tokiyo--Oh, okay. So you find staged photo ops for political gain to be "heartwarming". Isn't that nice?

Control freak - yes, I'm sure the wives approval rating just shot up in the polls all but assuring Harper and Abe victory in the next 5 or 10 years.

It must be tough going through life thinking that every single event, photo, occurrence etc. is scripted

6 ( +8 / -2 )

This photo is very easy to explain. Here in Canada, we are huggers...and that is it. It is a warm affectionate greeting....a tradition I suppose. My wife and I take care of tours of Japanese teenagers all summer who come here for 1 or 2 weeks. It used to be that the Japanese students were kind of apprehensive about it but since the same groups come each year, they are now used to it and often initiate the hugging themselves. At the end of their stay everyone hugs a lot with plenty of tears as they say goodbye. I will be visiting Japan myself next month and some of these same students will greet me at the airport with.....a hug. :)

13 ( +14 / -1 )

I love her bag, any idea about which brand is it?

0 ( +2 / -2 )

This put a smile on face this morning. I hope you all in JT have a great day.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Harpo and Abe meet. I am sure Dictator Harpo is congratulating Abe-san on decreasing corporate taxes while raising sales taxes and cutting social programs. The Iron Heel at work.

-4 ( +1 / -5 )

Is there something better than looking at a nice pair of well toned legs? YES! looking at two nice pairs :).

-5 ( +0 / -5 )

First time in a long time I have seen a PM's wife here in Japan. She is obviously much younger than he.

Akie Abe's 51, Shinzo Abe''s 59. Not a drastic age difference at all. But how is that relevant?

3 ( +4 / -1 )

@ControlFreak is minus 14 and counting for calling this a disgusting staged photo op, but this reaction shows a little naivety on the part of JT readers. If you follow Japanese politics, you would know that before Abe's first turn in the hot seat, PM's wives stayed firmly out of view.

During Abe's first term as PM, LDP spin doctors were quick to give his relatively young, photogenic wife a prominent role in an (ultimately unsuccessful) attempt to boost his popularity. As Japan has no official first lady and virtually no tradition of diplomacy by politician's spouses, the sudden appearance of Akie as a media celebrity was remarked on at the time by media critics as a crass attempt to gain votes.

Even extremely unperceptive viewers would have noticed how TV stations started reporting her regular appearances at events around the country without a hint of irony or retrospection, despite the fact that PM's wives had never before featured prominently in the media in Japan's entire modern political history. The mass media were hijacked to the cause as part of the LDP's carefully crafted publicity vehicle.

When the prominence or otherwise of the first lady fluctuates according to her age / physical appearance, one could argue the situation is more than a little sexist.

After Abe was forced out of office despite the spin doctors best efforts, there followed a succession of older PMs married to older, less telegenic women, and again the first ladies disappeared. Remember the wives of Abe's immediate successors, Fukuda and Aso? Didn't think so! Try googling a list of Japanese first ladies. You won't find one because the post doesn't officially exist. Akie was and is an anomaly.

Since Abe returned to power, the media coverage of Akie has been less gratuitous than before, perhaps because the discrepancy in treatment would be even more obvious second time around (or because she has aged seven years and is now over 50?) and also because Abe now has a firmer power base and is less in need of gimmickry. That said, Akie is still a media darling as she has her "fans" from her first time in the limelight.

I have no doubt the hug is genuine. I certainly wouldn't call it disgusting, it's a beautiful picture.

But sometimes a cigar is not just a cigar.

6 ( +9 / -3 )

@ jpn_guy

Great post... Just one thing. Is it your belief that Abe was "forced out" the first time around? I thought he quit voluntarily because his tummy hurt.

Hatoyama's wife was also a minor celebrity as far as first ladies go, but for all the wrong reasons. :)

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Lest we not forget the wife of Hatoyama and her public forays shudder However, photo-op or not, if the Canadian side have both present, it would not be so unusual that the Japanese side do the same. Hardly disgusting, manipulative or otherwise.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

@Tokiyo: When Koizumi, who left his pregnant wife, was PM, it was indeed often a case of uneven numbers, and you are right, it did look more than a little awkward.

And no, I do not consider it disgusting as I said. However, if the PM after Abe has an older (i.e. 70s not 50s), unattractive wife, and she once again is blanked from the media, I think we can all agree it is indeed manipulative. Why not just create an official first lady post and by done with it instead of having the media treatment fluctuate widely for each individual?

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Akie looks genuinely happy in that hug... what a lovely photo. Thanks JT.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Maybe Harper is happy thinking Abe is going to give him more money to clean up the west coast after the Tsunami and Abe's wife is thanking us Canadians for the blankets we gave to help out after the disaster.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Welcome to Canada is what Mrs Harper is saying while hugging Mrs Abe. A hug in Canada is almost 'protocol' when greeting 'friends' especially if the have traveled half way around the world to meet.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

This Canadian politico who loves Japan hugged his Sendai family members when he last left the country, and they loved it, with tears all around. He'll hug them when he returns, next month, and again there will again be tears all around. Methinks any critic of this photo exposes a cynic that needs a hug.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Canadian first lady gave hug ! Often Japanese who visit oversea do not know how to behave when other side give hugging or kissing in public, Different custom of showing affection than Japan. Glad Mrs, Abe knew how to be hugged.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

There is really nothing negative to say about this photo. At worst it is neutral. Yet it's amazing how some find ways to accomplish this pointless goal.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

@Trevor "Methinks any critic of this photo exposes a cynic that needs a hug."

Thanks for your concern! But do please share with us your non-cynical explanation of why Akie is the only first lady with a media profile.

I think we need to approach politics with in a rather different way from how we approach daily life with friends, acquaintances and colleagues. But as I said before, I don't dispute that the photo itself is lovely. If you appreciate the world is a complex place it is possible to simultaneously enjoy the positive emotions in the photo while also questioning its wider context. One should not go through life responding to all one sees in a one-dimensional way.

@papa smurf - yes, forced from office was probably a bad turn of phrase given the digestive trouble...

0 ( +1 / -1 )

I agree yet envious. Nice legs really. What's wrong if Madame is helping out in her own way?

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How can a country with such a reputation for integrity, fairness and basic decency produce a Prime Minister like this?

And which country am I talking about? Or maybe it's both ...?

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

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